Panel Criticizes Homeland Security

Thursday, May 18, 2006
A House panel gave a tongue-lashing to the Department of Homeland Security on May 17 before approving a $32.1b spending plan for the troubled agency. The Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote the agency's budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 after quarreling over -- and defeating -- Democratic proposals to boost funding for port and border security and grants to emergency first-responders. The GOP-drafted budget bill for the department would devote $19.6b to various border security and immigration enforcement programs, a 9 percent increase over current funding. The bill effectively boosts the department's budget by 6 percent over current levels, but still registers about $200m less than President Bush sought, since the Appropriations panel rejected for the second year in a row a Bush administration plan to raise airline ticket taxes. The fees were to finance about $1.3b in additional spending by the agency. Despite awarding the budget increase, lawmakers had harsh words for the sprawling agency, assembled from 22 different federal agencies in 2003. Most of the critiques were directed at the agency’s poor organization and financial management. (Source: Houston Chronicle)
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